The pelvic floor refers to the group of muscles that run from the pubic bone at the front of the pelvis to the coccyx (tailbone) at the back of the pelvis. This group of muscles play an important role within the body. The pelvic floor is responsible for voluntary control of urine, faeces and flatulence, sexual functions and maintaining support of the pelvic organs such as the uterus in women and the bladder and bowel in both men and women. It also very importantly forms part of our deep core system along with the diaphragm and the transverse abdominus (deep abdominals) and multifidus (deep spinal muscles). During exercise the pelvic floor, diaphragm and deep abdominal and spinal muscles work in a coordinated manner to control the pressure within the core system in response to load.
In the ideal situation, the coordination of pressure within the abdomen happens automatically. When lifting a weight, the muscles of the ‘core’ work together well- as you lift the load, you exhale (diaphragm ascends), the pelvic floor should contract and the deep abdominals and spinal muscles contract to provide support for the spine. In this scenario, the pelvic floor muscles respond appropriately to the increase in abdominal pressure. If the pelvic floor is not working optimally, a loss of function can result.
Common symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction include:
– Accidentally leaking urine when you exercise, laugh, cough or sneeze
– Needing to get to the toilet in a hurry or not making it there in time
– Constantly needing to go to the toilet
– Finding it difficult to empty your bladder or bowel
– Accidentally losing control of your bladder or bowel
– Accidentally passing wind
– Pain in your pelvic area
– Painful sex.
– A prolapse:
– in women, this may be felt as a bulge in the vagina or a feeling of heaviness, discomfort, pulling, dragging or dropping
– in men, this may be felt as a bulge in the rectum or a feeling of needing to use their bowels but not actually needing to go
(Source: Pelvic floor first – http://www.pelvicfloorfirst.org.au/pages/how-can-i-tellif-i-have-a-pelvic-floor-problem.html)
The pelvic floor can change at different stages of life and can sometimes become weakened and not work optimally. Some of the groups of people that may commonly experience pelvic floor dysfunction include: pregnancy, post natal, menopause, people on hormone replacement therapy, people completing frequent high impact activities (heavy lifting, jumping), chronic coughing/sneezing.
If you have any of these symptoms, we recommend contacting a Pelvic floor Physiotherapist to assess your individual condition. Once you know what you need to work on then our qualified practitioners can assist you work towards your goals and maintain the health of your pelvic floor.